Writing is hard and easy. It is both a joy and agony. There are moments of jubilant dizziness, despair, comfort, anger, tears and laughter, sometimes all that same time.
It is equal parts stressful and stress relieving. When not writing I yearn to be writing and sometimes when writing I crave to be anywhere but staring at the screen.
Writing is and always will be my biggest passion.
Yet it is also an evil monkey embedded in my back.
I love and loath and even when I turn my back on those unwritten words they’re always there, begging me to return and keep going.
Making shit up and writing it down is who I am.
That, dear blog reader, is my life as a writer in a nutshell.
My Writing Day
Before I get to the writing part of the day I should start with…
The Working Day
Actually, we’ll get to that in a bit. First let’s get the glorified image people often have of writers out of the way. Here are 3 to giggle at. These are generalisations folks, you know, for fun?
# 1 – Romantic Dreamer
I’m guessing you may know someone who quit their day job to become a full-time writer.
“Fuck the rat race! I’m going to write a book.”
My brain automatically translates that to: “I can’t hack the real world. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing so I’m going to slouch around and write shit down and hope the Publishing Fairy throws bags of money at me.”
That’s cool if they have some special means of supporting themselves whilst the magic happens.
You know the type, right? They have a faraway look in their eye. A well-practiced subtle glint that lets everyone know they see the world “differently” because life is all about the what-if, the whimsy, the marvellous unknowns and stories yet to be told.
It’s just sooo easy, right? Just write. Write it and they will come.
Funny how a plumber or electrician doesn’t think like that.
“If I plumb they will come.”
Doesn’t have the same ring to it somehow.
No need to worry about paying bills. That stuff is for people with no imagination. I’ll get by. People will support me. They’ll see how devoted and passionate I am to my craft. You know? The one I’ve just announced to everyone when I decided that morning I was going to be a writer.
All I need is paper and a pen. Maybe a laptop. A good one. And a bag. Worn leather. Hipster. Trendy. And a dimly lit area I can look all broody and intelligent in. And some books I haven’t read to make my intelligence and creativity bloody obvious to everyone.
That’s the golden ticket. You’ll see. My books will sell all around the world. I’ll be rich.
But it’s not about the money. I’m doing it to share my creativity with others. I want them to feel how I feel when I write. I want to share my soul with the world so they can feel my pain, my anger, my love and every other slither of poetic nonsense I can spew out.
(Excuse me whilst I puke)
Writing isn’t a thing you can get. It’s who you have always been. It’s you like your eyes, tone of voice, mannerisms are you. You don’t switch it on one day in the same way a cook doesn’t just wake up and knows every recipe in the world ever.
Sure, you work on your craft, you read, write, edit, seek advice, gain life experience, explore your world, write some more, and so on, for as long as you can breathe.
You don’t buy writing ability on Amazon. You’re not Neo. That shit doesn’t get uploaded into your brain in an instant.
Get over yourself.
# 2 – The Fake Stressed Writer
Once, whilst playing World of Warcraft, I listened to two people talking on my headset about writing.
It was a strange conversation that started with girl player (a Mage if I remember correctly) asking if anyone had read Stephen King’s Cell. This guy, let’s call him LegoAss because he was playing an Elf character at the time (and sounded like a complete dick end in my opinion) voiced that he didn’t read trashy writers.
There was a brief and somewhat heated debate about that before LegoAss steered the conversation toward the fact that he was a writer.
He wouldn’t give his name out. Apparently WoW wasn’t the right “platform” to be selling his books, and besides he preferred to keep his online WoW life and real life very separate. What a turd.
LegoAss claimed he was very stressed with all the writing he did, which was why he played Warcraft. It was stress relief for him.
Aww. Poor LegoAss. Too many words hurting your ickle brain? That’s why you need to throw virtual magic at stuff on your puter?
LegoAss wasn’t a stressed writer. He was a tool. From the way he spoke I had a mental image of a guy in a menial job who had written a short story and as such he was off to the fucking Oscars next week.
He’s like those weird people on X Factor who can’t sing and go bonkers when the judges tell them they’re shit.
# 3 – Starbucks Writer
Oh for the love of Zombie Jesus. I hate these people.
Okay. I understand that some remarkable things happen in coffee shops. Smug faced JK Rowling apparently wrote stuff in a coffee shop, or a launderette. Same thing.
And I get that not everyone in Starbucks is writing the next blockbuster novel. They’re just browsing Facebook, checking email or shopping.
But there’s a percentage of wannabe writers who get a kick out of coffee shop writing. Or at least the theatre of it.
I’ve seen them. Sincerely.
MacBook Pro Blah Blah Top Of The Line propped open. Mug of coffee beside it. Notebook nestled on the other side, close to the window so the Common Folk can admire how clever and creative they are.
Then there’s THE DOCUMENT. Any document will do so long as it looks like writing. Copy and paste garbage over and over and from a distance a fleeting glance will give the impression of the hard-working writer.
If the stage setting isn’t enough let’s not forget the facial cues.
There’s the “frowning, pensive, on the verge of greatness” expression.
The “staring out of the window, lost in their own world” expression.
Oh, and the “tapping a pen idly against chin/table/knee/newspaper to signify which plot gear to grind next” expression.
Why oh why would anyone choose a noisy coffee shop brimming with endless distractions to write in? I guess some people might find the atmosphere stimulating. But you know it’s bollocks, right? At best you can make notes, jostle a few words around or fiddle with a few paragraphs.
You can’t absorb yourself in the writing process whilst a mother and two kids are setting up a small nursery on the sofa behind you. No way can you concentrate when a couple of office types start talking sales projections, forecasts and who shagged whom at the Christmas party.
Coffee shop writers are on par with street performers. It’s all for show.
My Working Day
So. Wake up. Tired. That’s a given on weekdays. Should have stopped writing earlier the night before.
Say hi to dogs as I herd them outside to do their stuff.
Bathroom bits and pieces.
Neither. Can’t eat first thing. Drink. Something cold. Last nights flat Coke will do. Hey, I like it that way.
Watch the news as I get dressed.
Get my shit together. Bag. Diary. Money. Keys. Wallet. Damn dogs, what do they want?
Pet dogs. Avoid stinky breath. Hand out Bonios. Happy to see wagging tails I’m off to work.
Back roads or motorway?
Motorway looks clear. Radio on. Traffic update. Shit. Motorway blocked. 40 minutes extra travel time.
Oh well. Time to ponder my next chapter. Maybe work on developing a few weaker characters.
Make a few mental notes on changes to make.
Traffic sure is moving slow.
What if I move chapter 37 back to become chapter 8? It would make more sense plotwise. But then I’d have to adjust a few things, but yeah, that could work. And it would make more sense because the bad guys would…oh, traffic’s picking up.
I’ll work on that when I get home later.
Man. Wish I was home right now. I’m pumped for a good writing session.
Wonder if I should take my little netbook to work some time? Write through my lunch break maybe?
But then people will ask me questions. What you writing? Hey, you could put me in it! Is that the next book? You’re a writer? But you work in the office. I was going to buy The Range yesterday. Have you got the report on…oh, you’re writing, I’ll come back…well since I’m here, have you got the report I asked you for?
Yeah. Maybe not.
Get to work on time. Just.
All thoughts of writing are gone.
Every so often I catch myself staring into space for a few seconds, wondering about a specific chapter or scene I could add in to reinforce the sub-plot. Then it hits me. I’m at work. All that writing shit will have to wait.
Work. All day.
I love it, but it sure does suck the energy out of me by the end.
Drive home. At this time of year it’s dark. Headlights hurt my eyes.
Early in the journey I consider going straight to my PC when I get home and cranking out some words.
Then I pull in at home.
So tired. The need to slouch, eyes half-open with a full belly is overpowering.
Has everyone eaten? Is my food in the microwave/dog/bin/floor or even still in the packet/freezer and everyone has had pizza delivery?
Greet dogs. Smile at waggy tails.
Greet everyone I find. All cheery smiles. Good day? Yeah, not bad.
On occasion I have my grumpy face on. I try to leave work at work, but you know how it is. Things play on your mind.
Either slouch on sofa or propped up at kitchen table.
So, how about some writing?
After the eating, slouching, TV gazing, shooting the shit, the urge is there. I can just about feel it.
But can I face switching on the PC and burning my eyes some more?
Sure, why not. 1 hour a day minimum is my goal.
Open The Holt.
Stare at screen and rub eyes.
I usually read back through what I wrote the day before. Check it for stupid stuff.
That’s about 15 minutes.
On with the writing.
Emails first. Might be something important.
Hey, it’s my relaxation time.
Funny cats. Funny dogs. A couple of Cinema Sins videos and maybe an Honest Trailer or two.
Do I have time to write some feedback for other writers?
Better save that for the weekend when I’m more alert.
Maybe a bit of zombie action on Dying Light?
Meh. I got to turn on the Xbone. Find the TV remote. Find my glasses.
Okay. Writing time.
And yes I do write. Sometimes a few hundred words, hardly a page and I’m done. Body hurts, brain hurts, eyes are ouchy.
Other times I crank out a couple of thousand.
A few weeks ago I caught myself dozing, slumped in my chair, head jerking every time Mr Sandman came calling.
Toilet. Drink. Dogs to bed.
Should I shower/shave now? Or in the morning?
My shuffle to bed raises a weary smile. I feel like the infected meat bags I write about.
Bed feels heavenly.
Set morning alarm.
Pillows all fluffed up. Comfy cosy.
On the subject of pillows, check these bad boys out:
For all you zombie fans, you can get them at http://www.whokilledbambi.co.uk/2010/11/dead-tired-pillows/
I’m ready to go out like a light.
Hmm. Brain not disengaging.
Random thoughts here. Okay. Deal with them first. Then sleep.
Work stuff – plan of attack for tomorrow.
Writing stuff – chapter idea. Figure that out tomorrow evening.
Oh, what if…
And how about when…
Shouldn’t that character do the thing with the…
Oh. Not done yet.
What if Hilary Clinton became President? Would Bill Clinton be called The First Man?
Why is cheese pretty much the same colour? Why not bright pink?
I should have made lunch. Now I’ll have to buy some on the way to work.
There’s some of that good ham in the fridge.
Get up and do it now? Do it in the morning?
Hahaha. Store bought sandwich it is.
If ever there was an appropriate meme for this situation, here it is!
An hour is best estimate. Most nights it’s more like two. Between the sudden brain activity and restless arm/leg/body/ear syndrome, I’m surprised I don’t find myself still awake when the alarm goes off the next morning.
And just before Mr Sandman does his duty, I let the darkness envelop me, that’s where the real writing happens. The little version of me that sits behind my eyes taking notes is beavering away, jotting down dialogue, running through scenes to change or add or dump entirely.
Until I Make it…
And that, dear blog reader, is my life as a writer.
So you’ll understand why it’s taking so long to write The Holt. Oh, it’s over half way complete now by the way.
I get the feeling you’re wondering why I’m complaining. Come on Dave, you wrote this blog post instead of working on your book. You can’t wear your Cry Baby Pants if you’re actually writing but not writing the right thing.
Ah, well. I’m not complaining Smart Arse!
This is one of those “What’s it like being a writer?” deals. You know? Where the curious and starry-eyed person looks at you with something you probably take as awe and wonderment, but could indeed be scorn and derision, like:
“I do real work, so seriously, you write? What’s that about?”
Until I make it I consider myself a hard-working writer in that I work hard all day, work hard (though short-lived) on my writing in the evening, and get very little sleep.
Weekends are different.
There I have an entire two days to watch YouTube, play video games and procrastinate the hell out of every single minute until Sunday evening when I suddenly have a desperate desire to write. Then it’s like rushing school work so it’s ready for Monday morning.
Except for when I don’t do that.
And then that’s when the magic happens.
Imaginationland throws its doors open and I waltz through with a glint in my eye, eager to punish and reward my characters.
And then you have The Holiday Writing Week.
But that’s a story for another time.